A Tip from Mrs. Pastorino

Louise Pastorino, Head of Lower School

Louise Pastorino,
Head of Lower School

As I was sitting at my desk, once again pondering what to write about for the WSSA newsletter, I started reading articles on the LD Online website (always a good source of information). I came across an article by Rick Lavoie entitled, “Designing a Dossier: An Instruction Book for Your Child”. For those of you who might not be familiar with Rick Lavoie, he has worked with and written extensively about children with learning disabilities for many years. For anyone who has not seen the film, “Fat City”, by Mr. Lavoie, I encourage you to get a copy.

In his article, Mr. Lavoie recommends creating a dossier about your child that you, as parents, can share with adults who may be working and interacting with your child, such as Sunday school teachers, camp counselors, even the parents of your child’s friends. While reading this article, I remembered some of my encounters with adults who worked with my own daughter, but did not understand her limitations as well as her strengths, and I thought that maybe he is on to something.

Over the years, I have had numerous parents tell me that they do not send their child to activities or events that are organized and led by adults who do not have a background in learning differences, because they do not want their child to be embarrassed at not “fitting in” or not being able to read aloud or many other issues. When parents tell me that, I encourage them to meet with the adult in charge and share what their child is and isn’t capable of doing. How much more effective would it be to have a dossier on your child that briefly explains your child.

Mr. Lavoie suggests that a well-designed dossier consists of seven sections: introduction, diagnostic data, weaknesses, strengths, interests, supplemental personal information, and suggested strategies. Once again my thoughts shifted to my daughter. While I was well-versed in all the many areas of disability that comprised my child as she was growing up, composing a dossier with this structure would have helped me to conceptualize the whole child that she was. Today she is a bright, competent woman who is happily married and holds down a full-time job where she is respected and successful. Though when she was growing up, I was often discouraged by others who did not understand her and who did not hold the same high expectations for her that her father and I did. A dossier would have been a helpful road map to remind everyone (especially me) that while my daughter might face challenges others did not, her journey was her own, and the successes and failures she would face along the way would mold her into the woman she is today.

Mr. Lavoie’s article can be found
at http://www.ldonline.org/lavoie/Designing_A_Dossier_–_An_Instruction_Book_For_Your_Child

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